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Parametric search and field search both use values in fields to filter your result set. For both searches, you should have normal search text to create a subset of your total document set, and then use the field to filter that result set to the most relevant values.
The key difference between parametric search and normal field search is that:
with parametric search, you have a discrete list of values, and you choose one of those to filter your results.
with a field search, you can search for any value in a field.
When deciding whether to use parametric or field search, consider the following examples:
A set of product descriptions all contain a COLOR field:
with parametric search, you return the list of available colors. Users can then filter by one of the colors in this list.
with field search, users search directly for a value (for example
The COLOR field probably contains only a few values, so a parametric search probably makes the most sense in this case.
A set of book descriptions have an AUTHOR field:
with parametric search, you return the list of authors, and users can choose an author to filter the list of books.
with field search, users can search for an author name, or a partial author name, and return a list of books by that author.
In this case, the AUTHOR field might contain hundreds of different values. Additionally, users might not know the full name of the author they want to search for. A field search is probably the most appropriate in this case.